How To Use A Chainsaw Mill: Turn Wooden Log Into Lumber Within Minutes

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Have you ever felt that cutting large trees into lumber is a tedious task? Of course, you have. By the time you’re done reading this article, you will not feel the same way anymore!

Using a chainsaw mill is extremely helpful when it comes to dealing with large wooden logs. By knowing how to use a chainsaw mill, you can turn logs into lumber that can be used for construction.

How to use a chainsaw mill?

Preparations before using a chainsaw mill

A chainsaw mill or often called an Alaskan mill is a type of sawmill. It can easily be used by one or two operators and is helpful in turning logs into lumber. Once you’ve turned the large tree trunks into lumber, they can be used in furniture or construction. Once you get comfortable using a chainsaw mill, it’ll greatly reduce the time and effort needed for woodworking projects.

Chainsaw accidents are no joke and are more common than you may think. In fact, statistics paint a clear picture of how frequently accidents happen when operating a chainsaw. To avoid accidents, you should remember to use adequate safety equipment. The mandatory safety gear includes steel-toed shoes, a helmet, safety gloves, noise protection, long sleeves jacket, and chaps.

Remember that the beams and slabs you’re cutting will be quite heavy. As a result, you should be ready to handle them. It would be a smart idea to have someone around you to help you handle and move the wood. Additional help will also come in handy if something goes wrong.

Step 1

Remember to use a straight edge at the start. This way, the mill can easily follow and make cuts. Prefer a ladder that comes with good rigidity and weight, like an aluminum ladder. Ensure that you’re using the edge for starting and finishing.

Step 2

Make sure that you’re positioning the log properly. You will need to raise it up. You can do that by using slope down the log length. This will ensure that the results are consistent and accurate. Using gravity to your advantage will help you get nice and precise cuts. This will also help you get effortless feed pressure.

Step 3

Once you’re sure that you have a strong setup, you’ll be in the position for the first cut. Remember to have the chainsaw completely fueled. 

Make the first cut while the log is mounted in the mill, then rest it on the ground and start sawing. Allow the chain brake to stay on. You’ll need to place it on a straight edge similar to a dry run.

Step 4

You can make use of the aux oiler at a steady level. Now, you’ll need to take the chain brake off and make use of a Wide Open Throttle (WOT) to make the cuts evenly and slowly. Allow the mill to guide you into the cuts. 

Step 5

Once you’re done with the two cuts, you should use a throttle lock to maintain WOT. Adjust the grip so that you have better control. You shouldn’t apply too much pressure, just ensure that it makes flat cuts.

Step 6

Then, you should make about 3-4 cuts. Once you’ve reached there, make use of a wedge. Then, carefully pop it in a kerf position such that there is no top slab pinching chain. Continue doing this until you’ve got the desired results.

Step 7

Once you’ve got the needed cuts, you can release the throttle lock now. However, do it slowly and don’t lose control over the chainsaw mill. Use the chain brake and then make the exit cut.

Step 8

Keep the chainsaw mill towards the side and allow it to cool down. You shouldn’t stop the engine straight away after making a few hardcore cuts. If required, you should get the needed help to move the wooden lumber out.

Learn How to Use a Chainsaw Mill (ft. Wranglerstar)

Why buy a chainsaw mill for turning logs into lumber?

Production capabilities

While the production is fairly limited on a chainsaw mill, it’ll do a great job of turning logs into lumber. It isn’t a machine designed for producing stacks of lumber. However, if you wish to have something productive and don’t want the wood to be wasted, use a chainsaw mill. It’ll be the difference between wasted logs and furniture-worthy lumber.

A saw kerf comes with the thickness of the slot cut by the saw. A chainsaw will get a saw kerf around 3/8th of an inch, meaning that it is inefficient and produces sawdust. For those reasons, a chainsaw mill might not be the best option to optimize the lumber. However, it is still helpful as it gets the job done.

Cutting capacities

You will only be limited by the length of the chainsaw bar. As long as your bar is capable of reaching across the log, it is possible to cut it into lumber. A chainsaw mill is a great tool to cut wide slabs out of large trees. For instance, if you’re planning to build a table, then you can easily get the job done within no time.

If you’re able to get your hands on a portable chainsaw mill, it’ll only add to your comfort. You can use a chainsaw in your toolkit and use it for cutting large logs to a manageable size. Then, you’ll be able to fit the smaller logs to the higher production portable chainsaw mill.


A portable chainsaw mill means you can carry it with you whether you’re in your backyard or in a forest. Do you need a build a wooden cabin in a remote area? It is possible. Do you want to build a treehouse in your yard? It is possible.

You can pack one of them in your trucks and take them with you on the road. Even better, you’ll be able to cut the wooden logs wherever they lie. This is the right chainsaw mill for people will small budgets. You should remember that if you haven’t bought one already, a mid-sized chainsaw will go well with the chainsaw mill. However, a large professional-grade chainsaw will go best with it. 

How to use a portable chainsaw mill

Operating a portable chainsaw mill is very similar to operating the normal chainsaw mill. It’s all about making the right cuts with the first cut being the most critical. Here is how to use a portable chainsaw mill

Step 1

The rails will be the most important part of the chainsaw mill. As the logs you’re working with will have rounded tops, you should set the slabbing rails to the appropriate height.

This will help you get flat, smooth cuts. It is important for the rails to extend past the ends of the log. This is the case such that the cut gets supported the entire time. Pay attention to the wooden log and take note of the features you want to preserve. Setting up for the first cut will be the most important step in the entire process. Once you’ve completed the first cut, the slabbing rails should be removed.

Step 2

After the first cut is made perfectly, it’ll help guide future cuts. If you’re making lumber or beams, make the second cut on the bottom of the log. The majority of the time two cuts are more than sufficient. The two cuts will result in partially finished lumber.

chainsaw mill and huge log

The advantage to this step is that while you started working on the tree where it fell, you can easily perfect it elsewhere. Partially seasoned lumber can further be seasoned before it gets finished. Many people prefer to use a bandsaw or something that requires a slimmer kerf.

Step 3

If you’re using a chainsaw mill to finish the lumber, you’ll have to turn it 90 degrees before making other cuts. You will have to use the slabbing rails once more to guide the chainsaw. A carpenter’s square will be useful in ensuring that you get crisp 90-degree angles. If you’re going to transform the log into furniture, this step will be very useful for you.

Important tips to remember when using a chainsaw mill

When trying to operate a chainsaw mill, simply learning how to use a portable chainsaw mill isn’t enough. There are a few tips that you should keep in mind, as they’ll come in handy.

  • The cuts should be started and stopped slowly. This will help improve the cleanliness and quality of your cuts.
  • If you’re struggling with making straight cuts, you should try to use slabbing rails and see if the situation improves.
  • Be prepared for a lot of dust to come, as this is normal with this type of cutting. You should wear a mask and ensure that you remove any dust from the cap before you refuel the chainsaw. Cover all the things in the area you’re cutting so that they don’t get dusty.
  • Make sure that you don’t run out of fuel in the middle of cutting. Regularly check the fuel level, especially in between slab cuts.
  • After a long cut, it would be a smart option to allow the chainsaw to cool down. Keep it aside for a while and allow the engine to idle. Remember to let it cool down properly and not make the next cut after just a few seconds.
  • The boards or slabs you’re cutting might be quite heavy, so be ready with a backup. Have additional to help you out. Moreover, have a plan to move them once you’re done.


Thank you for reading. Hopefully, now you have a better idea of not just how to use a chainsaw mill, but also how to use a portable chainsaw mill. Once you’re able to understand the basics, then the entire process becomes a piece of cake. As mentioned before, take proper care of your safety. Handling a chainsaw is dangerous, so remember to wear all the safety gear and proceed with caution.

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Hi, I'm Mike - but my friends call me Backyard Mike. I'm the founder of this website, and I'm addicted to outdoor power tools. I love to work with wood and share my knowledge here on this website with you. You can find more about me here.